OMAN: Salgaocar FC were in the thick of action as they gave final touches to their preparation for their first AFC Cup qualifier match against Al-Arouba at the Al Seeb Stadium on Wednesday.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Salgaocar FC head coach Karim Bencherifa said: “We have defined our targets for AFC Cup as we are in a strong group. We also know that we are representing India at Asian level and are hopeful of putting up a good performance with best results as possible.”
Salgaocar FC reached Oman in the wee hours of Monday. After practicing at a local club ground they were scheduled for a final practice session at the Al Seeb stadium, Tuesday.
Al-Arouba will be happy to go into the match as they will have services of their 7 players who were with the national team. Whereas Salgaocar FC would be missing their goalkeeper Karanjit Singh along with Rocus Lamare and Francis Fernandes, all of whom are with the National team for the AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal.
“We know that Al Arouba is a good team, but we are here with an equally first-rate team. My boys are well prepared and are having high morale. The way the preparation has gone it has given me confidence and I trust that the team will do well. We will surely put in our best performance,” said Karim Bencherifa.
Salgaocar FC enters the competition without defeat in their last 11 I-League matches, snatching 8 wins and managing 3 draws. They are currently placed 3rd in the I-League table with just one point behind Mohun Bagan FC. Their new signing, French midfielder Maxime Belouet could make his debut in the upcoming match.
Al-Arouba’s assistant coach Khalfan Zaid was confident of a good show. “AFC Cup is a tough competition. All the teams are tough and have the right to win. We have good talented players and are hopeful of a win tomorrow. Having missed an opportunity to qualify for the 2nd round in the previous edition, we will put our experience of the AFC Cup to best use.”
Salgaocar FC captain Luciano said: “We know it is going to be competitive, but we are confident of a win tomorrow. We have prepared the best we could.” The kick-off is scheduled for 7 pm local time on March 7.